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Smith School of Business

Creative Innovation in a Lean Environment

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About the course

This interactive one-day Leadership Program focuses on leading and supporting product and service innovation, while recognizing the challenges faced in today's business environment.

How do we eliminate the non-value-added components of our business, and free up the resources we need to focus on innovation? Lean also instills a culture we can use as a foundation for innovation and establishing a strategy for what is "next".

Published surveys of leadership sentiments agree that innovation is on most executives "must-do" list yet:

  • Most businesses are too complex
  • Customers don't understand or value all the offerings of these same organizations
  • The most significant obstacles to innovation are a lack of resources and short-term focus

Challenges create opportunities, and this is where "Lean" comes in. Often mistakenly seen as a cost-cutting tool or headcount reduction tactic, lean focuses on value.

Lean innovation

In Lean Innovation: Understanding What's Next in Today's Economy, Barry Cross explores how to use Lean to free up resources from within the organization to support and ‘fund’ innovation and inspire a culture of creativity. Easy to read and humorous, Cross’ stories resonate and his tactics are very applicable. He demonstrates that you likely have the people needed to drive innovation.

Personal benefits

  • Enable your teams to better identify opportunity
  • Learn to recognize waste and how it inhibits the delivery of value to customers
  • Foster a balance between creativity and execution necessary to implement new ideas
  • Take personal steps to get out of your own day-to-day rut

Organizational benefits

  • Continuous and sustained fresh thinking
  • Best-in-class employee enthusiasm and morale
  • Improvement to existing processes
  • An agile culture that supports the next thing, while recognizing legacy products and services we should move past

Program content

Through a series of cases and discussions, this Program will provide you with the tools to:

  • Consider "What's Next?" for your firm
  • Understand the role of “Lean” in competitiveness
  • Stimulate creativity in disciplined environments
  • Build a clear link between generating the idea, refining it and implementing the innovation in your business
  • Drive an innovation culture webinar

The Program includes these main themes:

Understanding and Applying Lean

  • Freeing up internal resources; focus on the 'right less'
  • What does the customer want, and where are we wasting our time?
  • Applying "Lean" to Innovation – where simple sells

The Innovation Framework

  • Disruptive Innovation and where cannibalization fits
  • Story-boarding ideas and Innovation calisthenics
  • Getting past the 1.0 version of an idea
  • Structuring the organization to support specific ideas
  • Innovation and organizational growth; Leadership's Role
  • The link to Execution; keep your eye on the prize

Who should attend

This program is intended for Managers and Executives in public and private-sector organizations charged or concerned with fostering innovation and creativity in their environment.

Trust the experts

Barry Cross

Assistant Professor and Distinguished Faculty Fellow of Operations Strategy Barry Cross is an expert and thought leader in innovation, execution and operations strategy. He joined Smith School of Business after nearly 20 years in the automotive and manufacturing sectors with Magna, Autosystems...


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